Tottenham Hotspur fans

Who Are the ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League?

English football has, throughout its decades, had a number of dominant forces in its wake. Depending on your age, you might remember that as being Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Arsenal (again), Chelsea or Manchester City.

Pretty much every football club in the land has enjoyed peaks and troughs at some point over the years, but some have seemed to enjoy perennial success – be it historic or as a consequence of ‘new money’ flowing into the coffers. It’s a handful of these clubs that make up the monopoly of dominance in English football: the Premier League’s so-called ‘big six’.

What Is the Big Six in the Premier League?

The Big Six in the Premier League

The big six is the half-dozen clubs in the Premier League that can be described as the most successful, the richest or those with the biggest fanbase – in some cases, the Venn Diagram includes a club in all of those segments.

Manchester United

Manchester United have won more Division One/Premier League titles than any other club in history. They are also one of the best supported teams in England and overseas, so their place in the ‘big six’ is assured.


The same can be said of Liverpool, 19-time champions of the English top-flight, multiple-time winners of major tournaments on the continent and another club whose name is synonymous with football around the world.


Arsenal have enjoyed several spells of dominance of English football, and they are particularly well supported in Africa and Asia to help explain their global appeal.


Arsenal’s north-west London neighbours Tottenham are, historically, also part of the Big Six – even if you have to go back six decades for the last time that they won the Division One title.


The remaining members of the Big Six reveal how contemporary the phrase is. Chelsea went 50 years before winning the English top-flight title, then they won five times in the space of 12 years – their temporary domination of the beautiful game in England was very much a modern affair.

Manchester City

And then we have Manchester City, who like Chelsea have benefitted from a cash-rich benefactor to become the unstoppable force of English football. They won the First Division title just twice in more than 50 years, before the sheikhs of Abu Dhabi took charge – they then won it seven times between 2011 and 2023, with more likely to follow.

That’s the Premier League’s Big Six in a nutshell. A mix of classic heritage, stacked trophy cabinets, global appeal, commercial revenue and new money. And, erm, Tottenham. Historically, the media spoke of the ‘big four’ in English football – Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea, before Tottenham’s return to continental football and Manchester City’s cash injection, roughly around the same time in the late 2000s, saw the quartet increased to a sextet.

Fight the Power

Although the Big Six term is one only really used by the media, there are other implications of pitching this half-a-dozen clubs together. Generally, these six outfits want the same thing: they want to hold all of the power in the English game, and they don’t want their authority challenged by upstarts – the rise of the ill-fated European Super League was testament to that.

But while they’re famous rivals on the pitch, off it they recognise their collective interest in trying to turn the Premier League into a closed shop to new competitors – hence why they have so much voting power. Whenever the EPL meets to discuss the possibility of introducing new rules and regulations, it needs a quorum of 14 clubs to pass a vote – well, you can be sure that the Big Six will vote the same way, and they only need to convince one other club to join them for a motion to fail.

That happened in 2023, when Premier League chiefs introduced a bill that would have banned clubs that formed part of a multi-club agreement from loaning players to and from the other outfits in their network. In the end, the Big Six – and Newcastle United – voted against the principle, which meant that the 14-vote threshold in favour was not met.

Although there is absolutely no alliance between the Big Six clubs out on the pitch, off it they have become the best of frenemies in protecting their own interests at the expense of the other teams in the Premier League.

Is the ‘Big Six’ Era in the Premier League Over?

Manchester City football fans
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One of the reasons that the Big Six got their name was because of their consistent success on the pitch, which brought them silverware, Champions League football or, at the very least, a top-six finish in one of the most competitive domestic competitions on the planet. However, that competitive advantage has begun to become eroded, with Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea in particular all struggling to retain their ‘big six’ status in a truly footballing sense.

Leicester City won the EPL title in 2015/16, the biggest blow to the monopoly of the Big Six in the entirety of the Premier League era. But the problem for the Foxes was that it didn’t translate to global interest and commercial appeal – meaning that their reign at the top of English football was, ultimately, unsustainable.

Fanbase & Revenue Also Key

Since then, Leicester (for a second time), West Ham, Brighton and Newcastle have all finished inside the Premier League’s top six, while Aston Villa are on course to do so in 2023/24. So, does that facilitate a changing of the guard in the Big Six? Perhaps not, because as we’ve learned their status is holistic – it’s the global appeal, the size of the fanbase and the annual revenue that marks them out as ‘big’, rather than simply success on the pitch.

In time, Newcastle United might make it a Big Seven – or even depose Chelsea or Tottenham from the original six. They have the fanbase, of that there’s no doubt, and now they have the riches too; the Saudi Private Investment Fund, the club’s ownership brigade, is said to have assets worth around £620 million. Now all the Magpies need is a Premier League title to truly cement their status in the Big Six or Seven.